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Srinivas Sridhar electric field encephalography (EFEG)
Srinivas Sridhar’s electric field encephalography (EFEG) is capable of getting much more detailed information about the brain’s electrical activity. Credit: Mary Knox Merrill

Physics professor Srinivas Sridhar has been recently awarded a $50,000 grant for his project “Roadmap to Commercialization for Electric Field Encephalography”. According to a today’s article on Medicalxpress, the professor is working on a new way to measure brain activity, with the goal of creating more accurate non-invasive brain-computer interfaces and neurofeedback applications. Sridhar is using Electric Field Encephalography (EFEG), a new technique based on measuring electric fields of the brain.As opposed to the fairly limited electroencephalography (EEG), EFEG can be used to measure brain activity from significant distance, with no contact to the head surface at all. When positioned 3 cm away from the scalp, the performance of an EFEG sensor is characterized by the same signal-to-noise ratio as an EEG sensor placed on the scalp. When positioned on the scalp, EFEG sensors can provide 2-3 times more uncorrelated signals.

The EFEG technology could be useful for many med­ical applications, including monitoring the brain of anesthetized patients or detecting threatening patterns in a drone pilot’s field of vision or track the brain’s response to neurological drugs. Other possible applications range from emotion analysis to sleep, epilepsy and mental health research, and to neuromarketing, a new segment of marketing examining the unconscious responses to advertisements.

Sridhar and his team are developing a completely portable experimental prototype. Sridhar envisions an iPhone app that collects brainwave activity of patients with neurolog­ical disorders, processes the data in the cloud and then broadcasts it to their doctors.

Funded by an I-Corps grant from the National Science Foundation, Sridhar plans to turn this idea into a reality. “It’s a platform that could be adapted to different applications,” Sridhar said of the theoretically feasible technology.

“The I-​​Corps program creates an innovation ecosystem to translate NSF research into real products,” Sridhar said. “The goal is simple: Commercialize this.”

What is Electric Field Encephalography?

This technology is a system of measuring and analyzing the electric fields generated by the brain arising from intrinsic activity or external stimuli. It is comprised of a system of high density array of sensors, accompanied by electronics and signal processing algorithms. This technique used through this technology has several advantages over current modalities, Electroencephalography (measuring the electric potential on the scalp) and Magneto-encephalography (measuring the magnetic field). This technology has higher spatial resolution, is unaffected by stray magnetic fields, does not cryogenic equipment and improves source reconstruction precision. Technologies developed through this project have the potential to provide new information for understanding brain activity and obtaining clues to a variety of neurological disorders.